proofreading & revising
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DESCRIPTIONProofreading & Revising. Center for Professional Communication. Where To Begin. Proofreading is primarily about searching your writing for errors, both grammatical and typographical, before submitting your paper for an audience (a teacher, a publisher, etc.). . General Strategies. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation
Proofreading & RevisingCenter for Professional Communication1Proofreading is primarily about searching your writing for errors, both grammatical and typographical, before submitting your paper for an audience (a teacher, a publisher, etc.). Where To BeginThough everyone has a unique proofreading process, there are some general strategies that can be helpful to most writers. Begin improving your proofreading skills by trying out the guidelines listed below.
2General StrategiesTake a break!Leave yourself enough time.Read aloud.Role-play.Get others involved.Take a break! Allow yourself some time between writing and proofing. Even a five-minute break is productive because it will help you get some distance from what you have written. The goal is to return with a fresh eye and mind.
Leave yourself enough time. Since many errors are made by speeding through writing and proofreading, you should take your time to look over your writing carefully. This will help you to catch errors you might otherwise miss. Always read through your writing slowly. If you read at a normal speed, you won't give your eyes sufficient time to spot errors.
Read aloud. Reading a paper aloud encourages you to read every little word.
Role-play. While reading, put yourself in your audience's shoes. Playing the role of the reader encourages you to see the paper as your audience might.
Get others involved. Asking a friend or a Writing Lab tutor to read your paper will let you get another perspective on your writing and a fresh reader will be able to help you catch mistakes that you might have overlooked.
Read your Paper AloudAny time your text is awkward or confusing, or any time you have to pause or reread your text, revise this section. If it is at all awkward for you, you can bet it will be awkward for your reader.
Examine your ParagraphsExamine the overall construction of your paragraphs, looking specifically at length, supporting sentence(s), and topic sentence. Individual paragraphs that are significantly lacking length or sufficient supporting information as well as those missing a topic sentence may be a sign of a premature or under-developed thought.
Track Frequent ErrorsKeep track of errors that you make frequently. Ask your teacher or visit the Writing Lab for assistance in eliminating these errors.
3Personalizing ProofreadingFind out what errors you typically make.Learn how to fix those errors.Use specific strategies.In addition to following the general guidelines above, individualizing your proofreading process to your needs will help you proofread more efficiently and effectively. You won't be able to check for everything (and you don't have to), so you should find out what your typical problem areas are and look for each type of error individually. Here's how:
Find out what errors you typically make. Review instructors' comments about your writing and/or review your paper with a Writing Lab tutor.
Learn how to fix those errors. Talk with your instructor and/or with a Writing Lab tutor. The instructor and the tutor can help you understand why you make the errors you do so that you can learn to avoid them.
Use specific strategies. Use the strategies detailed on the following pages to find and correct your particular errors in usage, sentence structure, and spelling and punctuation.
4Finding Common ErrorsProofreading can be much easier when you know what you are looking for. Although everyone will have different error patterns, the following are issues that come up for many writers. When proofreading your paper, be on the lookout for these errors. Always remember to make note of what errors you make frequentlythis will help you proofread more efficiently in the future!
5SpellingDo NOT rely on your computer's spell-check.Examine each word in the paper individually by reading carefully. Use outside resources to help.Be especially careful of words that are typical spelling nightmares.
Do NOT rely on your computer's spell-checkit will not get everything!
Examine each word in the paper individually by reading carefully. Moving a pencil under each line of text helps you to see each word.
If necessary, check a dictionary to see that each word is spelled correctly.
Be especially careful of words that are typical spelling nightmares, like "ei/ie" words and homonyms like your/you're, to/too/two, and there/their/they're.
6Left-out and doubled wordsReading the paper aloud (and slowly) can help you make sure you haven't missed or repeated any words.
7Fragment SentencesMake sure each sentence has a subject.Make sure each sentence has a complete verb.See that each sentence has an independent clause.Make sure each sentence has a subject. In the following sentence, the subject is "students": The students looked at the OWL website.
Make sure each sentence has a complete verb. In the following sentence, "were" is required to make a complete verb; "trying" alone would be incomplete: They were trying to improve their writing skills.
See that each sentence has an independent clause; remember that a dependent clause cannot stand on its own.
The following sentence is a dependent clause that would qualify as a fragment sentence: Which is why the students read all of the handouts carefully.
8Run-on SentencesReview each sentence to see whether it contains more than one independent clause.If there is more than one independent clause, check to make sure the clauses are separated by the appropriate punctuation.Sometimes, it is just as effective (or even more so) to simply break the sentence into separate sentences instead of including punctuation to separate the clauses.
9Run-on SentencesExample run-on: I have to write a research paper for my class about extreme sports all I know about the subject is that I am interested in it.Edited version: I have to write a research paper for my class about extreme sports, and all I know about the subject is that I am interested in it.Another option: I have to write a research paper for my class about extreme sports. All I know about the subject is that I am interested in it.
10Comma SplicesLook at the sentences that have commas.Check to see if the sentence contains two main clauses.If there are two main clauses, they should be connected with a comma and a conjunction like and, but, for, or, so, yet.Another option is to take out the comma and insert a semicolon instead.11Comma SplicesExample: I would like to write my paper about basketball, it is a topic I can talk about at length.Edited version: I would like to write my paper about basketball because it is a topic I can talk about at length.Edited version, using a semicolon: I would like to write my paper about basketball; it is a topic I can talk about at length.
12Subject/Verb AgreementFind the subject of each sentence.Find the verb that goes with the subject.The subject and verb should match in number, meaning that if the subject is plural, the verb should be as well and vice versa.13Subject/Verb AgreementExample: Students at the university level usually is very busy.Edited version: Students at the university level usually are very busy.
14Mixed ConstructionRead through your sentences carefully to make sure that they do not start with one sentence structure and shift to another. A sentence that does this is called a mixed construction.Example: Since I have a lot of work to do is why I cannot go out tonight.Edited version: Since I have a lot of work to do, I cannot go out tonight.
15ParallelismLook through your paper for series of items and make sure these items are in parallel form.Example: Being a good friend involves good listening skills, to be considerate, and that you know how to have fun.Edited version: Being a good friend involves knowing how to listen, being considerate, and having fun.16Pronoun Reference/AgreementSkim your paper, stopping at each pronoun.Search for the noun that the pronoun replaces.If you cannot find any noun, insert one beforehand or change the pronoun to a noun.If you can find a noun, be sure it agrees in number and person with your pronoun.17Pronoun Reference/AgreementExample: A person should be aware of their surroundings.
Edited Version, making both plural: People should be aware of their surroundings.
Edited Version, making both singular: A person should be aware of his/her surroundings.18ApostrophesSkim your paper, stopping only at those words which end in "s." If the "s" is used to indicate possession, there should be an apostrophe, as in Mary's book.Look for contractions, like you're for you are, it's for it is, etc. Formal writing does not use contractions. Return each contraction to its separate form like cannot instead of cant.Remember that apostrophes are not used to make words plural. When making a word plural, only an "s" is added, not an apostrophe and an "s."19Revising for Cohesion20Steps for Revising Your PaperFind your main point.Identify your readers and your purpose.Evaluate your evidence.Save only the good pieces.Tighten and clean up your language.Eliminate mistakes in grammar and usage.Switch from writer-centered to reader-centered.21Two PrinciplesBegin sentences with short, simple words and phrases that a) communicate information that appeared in previous sentences, or b) build on knowledge that you share with your reader.In a paragraph, keep your topics short and reasonably consistent.
22Exercise: Diagnosis, Analysis, RevisionDiagnosisUnderline the first few words of every sentence in a paragraph, ignoring short introductory phrases such as "In the beginning," or "For the most part."If you c